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UNITED KINGDOM – Government Announces Changes to Tier 2

On 23 March 2016 the government announced changes to the Tier 2 work authorisation category in response to two reviews undertaken last year by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

The main changes will come into effect in two stages (autumn 2016 and April 2017).

What are the Main Changes?

Below are the major changes to Tier 2:

Tier 2 General

  • Tier 2 (General) salary thresholds for experienced workers will be increased to £25,000 in autumn 2016, and £30,000 in April 2017. Some health and education professionals will be exempt from the higher threshold until July 2019. The minimum threshold for new entrants will remain at £20,800;
  • Nurses will remain on the Shortage Occupation List, but sponsors will need to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) before recruiting a non-EEA nurse;
  • Overseas graduates will be given extra weight in the Tier 2 General monthly allocation panel reviews
  • Graduates will be able to switch roles within a company once they have secured a permanent job.

Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer

  • All intra-company transferees will be required to qualify under a single visa category with a minimum salary threshold of £41,500, from April 2017;
  • An exception to the above applies to the Graduate Trainee category, where the salary threshold will be reduced from £24,800 to £23,000. The number of trainees that an employer may bring to the UK will increase from five to twenty;
  • There will be a transitional period until April 2017 to allow those affected to plan for the changes;
  • In autumn 2016, the Skills Transfer category will be closed to new applicants;
  • Also in autumn 2016, the minimum salary threshold for the Tier 2 ICT Short Term category will be increased to £30,000. From April 2017, the Tier 2 ICT Short Term category will be closed to new applications;
  • From April 2017, the minimum salary threshold for intra-company transferees working in the UK for between five and nine years will be lowered from £155,300 to £120,000. The requirement for applicants to have one year’s experience where they are being paid over £73,900 will be removed.

Other Changes

  • An Immigration Skills Charge will be levied on Tier 2 employers at a rate of £1000 per Certificate of Sponsorship per year from April 2017. Smaller businesses and charities will be charged a lower amount of £364. There will be an exemption for PhD occupations, Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainees and Tier 4 students switching to Tier 2;

No Change

  • There will be no change to the work rights of dependents of Tier 2 migrants;
  • Tier 4 students switching to a Tier 2 visa will not be subject to a limit on numbers and their sponsor will not have to carry out a RLMT.

Action Items

  • Employers should prepare for the forthcoming changes to Tier 2 starting in autumn 2016.

The information in this alert was provided by Jones Kelleher and Associates, Dearson Winyard, Newland Chase and Definitive.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2017 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.